Linux 4.21 Is Going To Be A Big Release To Jump-Start The New Year

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 22 December 2018 at 01:21 AM EST. 6 Comments
While Linux 4.20 isn't even expected for release until Sunday, which itself is delivering many new features and hardware support, the Linux 4.21 release is another big one that will start off the new year.

Due to Christmas and New Years happening during the expected Linux 4.21 kernel merge window, many subsystem/driver maintainers have already been sending in their new feature pull requests early as they will be taking time off work. As such, there's already quite a solid look at the likely features for Linux 4.21 -- assuming Linus Torvalds doesn't have any objections to the proposed code.

There still is a lot of pull requests yet to be submitted, but among the material we are looking at for Linux 4.21 includes:

- AMDGPU FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync support is ready and one of the last long sought after features out of the AMD open-source stack by gamers and enthusiasts... It's finally happening, folks. The kernel code is in DRM-Next and the relevant user-space bits should be merging as soon as these bits hit mainline.

- Continued work on Intel Icelake Gen11 graphics and other ongoing Intel DRM driver work. Also notable is the enabling of DP FEC support.

- AMDKFD compute support for Vega 12 and Polaris 12. There is also improved AMDGPU support for Vega 20.

- NVIDIA Tegra194 Xavier display support along with HDMI audio bits.

- Initial NVIDIA Turing support but it's just limited to basic display/KMS support and not yet 3D until getting signed firmware blobs by NVIDIA for this Nouveau kernel driver.

- Cedrus video driver improvements for Allwinner SoCs.

- New mainline drivers around the Intel Stratix10 FPGAs.

- Aquantia Aqtion USB to 2.5G/5G Ethernet driver along with many other networking subsystem updates.

- Adiantum crypto support by Google to replace their previously planned usage of Speck for low-end Android device data encryption. It's also now plugged into fscrypt for offering Adiantum-based encryption for the likes of EXT4 and F2FS with Linux 4.21.

- Streebog crypto support, developed in part by the Russian government, is also queued.

- Intel MPX is likely to be removed.

- High resolution scrolling for Logitech and Microsoft mice now appears to be in order after this code was reverted from 4.20 and then reworked.

- Cougar 700K gaming keyboard support.

- There might be the initial i.MX8MQ SoC support bits and for its reference board.

- Better protections against malicious Thunderbolt devices.

- Support for swap files with Btrfs and other enhancements.

- the ARM-focused Energy Model Framework is finally being merged.

- AMD STIBP "Always-On Preferred Mode" is being merged though still no word yet on what CPUs/microcodes will be impacted.

- Pointer authentication for AArch64.

- Mainline support for the $129 Intel SoC FPGA board: Chameleon96.

- Linux networking performance improvements around offsetting the performance overhead of Retpolines.

- Likewise, the DMA mapping code is trying to recover some Retpoline losses.

- AMD Audio Co-Processor 3.x support for Raven Ridge systems as well as other new sound hardware support.

- The I3C subsystem is proposed for integration in Linux 4.21 after failing to be queued in time for 4.20.

- Binderfs is queued for a file-system to Android's Binder kernel IPC code.

- A lot of exciting media driver work from the Intel IPU3 driver to the ASpeed video engine.

For Linux 4.20 not even being out yet, Linux 4.21 is sure looking like it will come in on the big side and make a grand premiere by the end of Q1'2019.
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Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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